THE firm behind plans for the £20m Jericho Boatyard redevelopment scheme has defended its proposals to make just 32 per cent of the site’s housing affordable.
Oxford City Council’s planning policy says that 50 per cent of homes in new developments should be affordable, unless a developer can prove it is not financially viable.
It comes as Strategic Iconic Assets Heritage Acquisition Fund (SIAHAF)’s planning application for the long-awaited scheme was finally made public on the council’s website on Monday.
It reveals that of 22 new homes, just seven will be affordable.
But Johnny Sanderson, SIAHAF chief executive, said the benefits outweighed the lack of housing.
Mr Sanderson said: “The boatyard is one of the most complicated development sites in the city, with massive infrastructure costs going into it.
“That includes the provision of the boatyard, community centre and a public square that will finally allow people to appreciate the Grade I-listed St Barnabas Church.
“Despite that, we have still said one third of housing delivered will be affordable.
“We see that as a huge success, though clearly you always want to deliver more.”
Mr Sanderson said SIAHAF had reached a “broad agreement” with the city council on the issue.
But members of the Jericho Wharf Trust, the community group which made a rival bid for the boatyard site, have raised concerns about the plans.
Group member Peter Stalker said: “It is important to the community that there is enough affordable housing in this scheme, so the Wharf Trust is disappointed SIAHAF is only proposing 32 per cent.”
The trust has also said the plans published have pushed up the costs for a community centre by £1.6m, to £6.6m.
SIAHAF has said it will build the community centre but residents have to fund it.
In the latest designs the firm said it would have to be partly built above the community boatyard.
SIAHAF spokesman Nick Band said the developer wase unaware of the trust’s position on housing but would be happy to discuss the issues directly.
City council leader Bob Price, who is a member of the committee which will decide whether to approve the plans said: “Our policy is very clear on this issue.
“If the affordable housing quota is below 50 per cent then the questions about viability become very important. We will carefully scrutinise evidence put forward.
“We need more affordable housing in the city and the policy is part of that aspiration.”
The city council’s west area planning committee is likely to make a decision in August, and must do so before September 18.
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